We present filaria-nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which is based on amplification of first internal transcribed spacer rDNA to distinguish three parasitic filarial species ( Onchocerca volvulus
, Mansonella ozzardi
and Mansonella perstans
) that can be found in the Amazon Region. Nested PCR-based identifications yielded the same results as those utilizing morphological characters. Nested PCR is highly sensitive and specific and it detects low-level infections in both humans and vectors. No cross-amplifications were observed with various other blood parasites and no false-positive results were obtained with the nested PCR. The method works efficiently with whole-blood, blood-spot and skin biopsy samples. Our method may thus be suitable for assessing the efficacy of filaria control programmes in Amazonia by recording parasite infections in both the human host and the vector. By specifically differentiating the major sympatric species of filaria, this technique could also enhance epidemiological research in the region.